Outsider Art

Outsider Art is a term used to describe art produced by talented individuals who have not undergone formal artistic training or have come from conventional art backgrounds. Coined by British art historian Roger Cardinal in 1972, the definition was expanded from the French term Art Brut that was introduced in 1945 by artist Jean Dubuffet. Dubuffet was interested in collecting unique expressions from individuals who had no artistic culture or who were socially and culturally distant from self-affirmation as artists, such as psychotics, prisoners, mediums and eccentrics. Dubuffet and Cardinal initially focused on European artists before Outsider Art took hold in the United States, where it became a phenomenon that brought together a wide range of marginalized art.

Adolf Wölfli (1864-1930).

His drawings served to illustrate a story of more than 25,000 pages that combines an imaginary autobiography with plans for a utopian future, including original musical compositions

Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946), according to the J. Paul Getty Museum “one of the most critically acclaimed self-taught artists of the 20th century”.

The expressive power of Martín Ramírez (1895–1963), institutionalized artist at the DeWitt State Hospital in northern California, where he resided the last 15 years of his life.

Over time, the definition of Outsider Art has expanded, and it now includes the art of individuals who retreat, consciously or unconsciously, from the official system, regardless of their ages or backgrounds. The unifying characteristic of Outsider Art is the raw quality of artistic expression, which is not influenced by academic rules or official trends. The field of Outsider Art is based on the idea that making art is a human activity, and the unconventional nature of art is what drives the emotions it arouses.

Why do we look at Outsider Art?

Once again, go to the roots, not to the fruits.

Especially if we are exploring a certain take on American Traditional tattooing, the more raw and expressive type, it can help to step outside of the commonly explored boundaries(tattoos of contemporary artists) to get a fresh perspective.

Outsider Art can provide a unique outlook into the untapped and unprocessed aesthetics that carry the same quality we might be looking for, in our paintings and tattoos: primitive simplification, readability and expressive power. What you might call “style”. This unfiltered references, if studied and not merely copied, can build overtime a new interpretation of forms.

Artworks by Antonio Ligabue, Jeanne Brousseau, Janko Domsic, Bernard Gilardi, Paul Andress, Henri Rousseau.

Studying Outsider and Primitive Art can be if anything a fresh outlook into a style which perhaps can help you sometimes to get out of a creative block.

Remember, style is a consequence born out of exploration, the more primitive the sources, the more authentic the outcome.

Artworks by tattooers Ed Hardy, Dan Higgs, Salty Walt McDonald, Chad Koeplinger Rosie Camanga, Bobeus.


Art exhibition: Florence, Italy, 1st-3rd of December

The next Florence Tattoo Convention will host an exhibition of the 33 paintings featured in the new book INFERNO. It’s an honor to exhibit in the city where me and Dante are from.

All the originals will be available for purchase, also HardCraft Co. will be present with copies of the book for sale